Visitor pressure in amusement parks

Problems and stakeholder-relations in the case study of the "Europa Park Germany"

Academic Paper, 2019
16 Pages, Grade: 1,0


Table of Contents


Table of Figures

1) Introduction

2) The case

3) Literature review.

4) Analysis

5) Conclusion

Reference List


This research paper is a critical analysis of visitor pressure in amusement parks. Overtourism and visitor pressure are growing themes in the tourism industry and in destination management. Different, big cities are affected. The phenomenon will be enlightened with a case study of an amusement park as an artificial destination – Europa Park in Germany. The development towards overtourism and stakeholder relations are analysed in view of facing issues for the park itself and the main stakeholders on the micro level: the residents, the employees and the visitors. The transition from a day attraction towards a short-trip destination is used to show the process of growing visitor numbers. Afterwards, critical issues like pollution, e.g. through traffic, and further developments are analysed considering the different stakeholders. Finally, recommendations are given to deal with problems of visitor pressure in amusement parks.

Keywords: amusement parks, visitor pressure, overtourism, transition, stakeholders, artificial destination, capacity

Table of Figures

Figure 1 Transition Model (Rauws & De Roo, 2011)

Figure 2 The Transitions of Europa Park

Figure 3 Driving Factors of the Transition in Europa Park

1) Introduction

As a fast-evolving industry, many places in the world are in the process of becoming a tourism destination. To deal and act with tourism, Hartmann (2018) names 3 different ways. Firstly, tourism can be seen as an intruder of space and/or in competition or incompatible with other functions like agriculture. Secondly, tourism is an economic opportunity and used to reach quantitative goals in policies. Thirdly, also societal goal like sustainable development can be reached.

This research paper is written to present a critical analysis of the case Europa Park in Germany dealing with the previously mentioned ideas and challenges of tourism. By now, it is the biggest amusement park in Germany and one of the bigger ones worldwide (Europa-Park GmbH & Co Mack KG, 2019). The paper aims to critically reflect on the problems of overtourism in amusement parks as well as the related stakeholder relations. Therefore, it has to be considered that the chosen case is particular in its kind as an artificial destination.

But when can we talk about overtourism in amusement parks? The aim is to show the possibilities and hurdles of change and improvements with a critical point of view to acquire an understanding of societal forces and entrepreneurial decision makings in the context of visitor pressure. Therefore, the problem statement was created as follows:

How has the Europa Park developed towards visitor pressure and how do different stakeholders deal with it?

As many studies of overtourism in big cities already revealed, it can have a big impact on the residents the environment and many more social actors (Postma, 2019). Therefore, recommendations have already ben developed. However, the issue in case of an artificial destination as amusement park is critical reflected in this paper. The point of view can be distinguished between intern, so the park itself, and extern, like the “real” destination where the park is located.

After this brief introduction, the paper will introduce the case study and the important terms and theories. Critical issues will be analysed and discussed, and recommendations are given. The paper will end with a conclusion to summarize the critical reflection on the case. The focus will be put on the interaction between the park with the main stakeholders: the locals/municipality, the employees and the visitors itself.

2) The case

The Europa Park in Germany serves as a case study. The history goes back to the year 1975, where the park opened the first time for the public. It is placed in the city Rust with less than 4.000 inhabitants. Rust is located in German next to the French border, and also Switzerland is not far away. From these 3 groups are the major visitors of Europa Park. The founder family ‘Mack’ had already had roots in the amusement park business because they already owned a company that manufactures rollercoasters and rides. The park should serve as an exhibition space for the products of the manufacturer company ‘Mack Rides’. A rapidly increasing number of visitors lead so continuous expansions of the amusement park. The first ten years are marked by growing. The concept of the park is Europe as the name implies. The strategy of creating different countries as themed areas of the park was realized in the time between 1985 and 1995. Of course, this strategy is still followed, and new areas and attractions are developed and build continuously every (few) year(s). In 1995, another milestone was set by opening the first company-owned hotel with the aim to become a short trip destination. Meanwhile, a sixth hotel will open in 2019. On top, the park opens for a winter season since 2001 in December and January. The company is still a family business. In 2019, a more weather and season independent water park will open as a second park that probably increases the visitor number as well. (Europa-Park GmbH & Co Mack KG, 2019).

To summarize the actual level of development some facts from the year 2017/18 are named briefly (Europa-Park GmbH & Co Mack KG, 2019):

- 15 Europe themed areas and over 100 attractions
- Area of 134 hectares/ 95 of it was build
- Employees: 3.800
- Visitors: over 5.6 Mio.
- Visitor re-visit rate: 82%

3) Literature review

To define the term visitor pressure, this becomes very difficult due to the fuzzy meaning. In general, it can be seen as a negative attitude of the local community towards increasing tourist numbers leading to problems of overcrowding, noise and other effects caused by tourists. This can influence the hospitality of the residents in a negative way and make the destination less interesting for visitors. The view is also broadened from locals to other stakeholders (Koens & Postma, n.d.). On the other hand, overtourism refers to conflicts and problems caused by tourists. According to responsibletravel (2019), overtourism has a subjective perception. It is in general about too many visitors in a destination. Therefore, “too many” is defined in each destination by all single stakeholders like the residents, the business owners or the visitors self separately. Tourism crossed a threshold and the negative value of caused problems is bigger than the positive value that tourism brings. In the following the author uses preferred the term visitor pressure because a rating - as overtourism implies - of positive and negative effects is not intended.

Postma (2019) dealt in the study of ETFI with visitor pressure in European tourism cities. Here, findings are insights to better regulate visitor pressure and in the opinions of residents as well as strategies to deal with visitor pressure. Due to the results, recommendations for management strategies are given. Two major ideas are on one hand to spread the season and on the other hand to put more tourist spots outside of the centre to influence the tourist flow for decreasing the visitor pressure in a particular area.

As already mentioned in the beginning, the tourism industry is developing places around the world into tourism destinations. In these developments, a lot of different stakeholders are involved. In the case of the company, this progress can be seen as a transition. Transitions take place on multiple levels of scale. Existing patterns and relationships can be changed radically and permanent. Furthermore, transitions can also occur on different levels. They are characterized by nonlinear behaviour (Rotmans, et al., 2001). The theory is used to explain the growing issues of visitor pressure and stakeholder relations.

A transition can be distinguished in 4 different phases that are comparable to a product life cycle. Every product or destination has to move through these stages of development.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 1 Transition Model (Rauws & De Roo, 2011)

4) Analysis

The complexity of the described case is already apparent. The progress can be seen as two major transitions. First from the opening as a day trip attraction towards a short-trip destination with a high number of guests nowadays. The aspect of visitor pressure has grown within this development. And the second transition starts from this point towards further destination development. The new water park can be set in the take-off phase of this change. The following figure illustrates both transitions similar to the phase model of Rauws & De Roo, 2011.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Figure 2 The Transitions of Europa Park

The nonlinear development involves different societal actors. Accommodations and other hospitality facilities have been developed over time and replaced other sectors and industries in Rust. Talking about an amusement park, it has to be considered that an amusement park is an artificial destination. That means areas are completely self-created, artificial spaces that are used to attract more visitors with special offers to a longer stay (Rossmann, 2013). In the context of the ecological system, this leads to the assumption of a closed environment, where everything takes place. But on the other hand, the interrelatedness with different societal actors and circumstances from outside has to be considered.

In the end, the small local amusement park became an international spot for tourists from different countries. But when can we talk about visitor pressure in amusement parks? And is there a difference between in the park itself and in the community, where the park is placed? Is there a maximum number of visitors that a park can handle? On the other hand, the visitors in the park also have an impact on the environment, for example with their pollutions (e.g. noise) or aspects they cause with their arrival and departure as well as their behaviour in the community where the parks are placed.

In the given case, tourism has all the three at the beginning named functions. Tourism has the community changed from a fisher area to hospitality actors. Space is used for facilities in this industry. Economic goals are followed by this development, also for stakeholders like the residents. Furthermore, social goals are followed, e.g. in terms of sustainable achievements and contact care.

After a summarizing figure, the focus will be put on different stakeholders and societal actors. In relation to this, the major problems the company is facing in the future will be presented and discussed.


Excerpt out of 16 pages


Visitor pressure in amusement parks
Problems and stakeholder-relations in the case study of the "Europa Park Germany"
University of Derby
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ISBN (eBook)
amusement parks, visitor pressure, overtourism
Quote paper
Max Hoffmeister (Author), 2019, Visitor pressure in amusement parks, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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